A fast-growing Chicago based chain of coworking spaces has responded to the startup community’s growth in the South and opens up today in Raleigh’s Charter Square building. More than 50 percent of its 66 private offices are reserved by startups, small businesses and remote workers from national firms.
What Industrious claims makes it different from other coworking facilities is its focus on building a diverse community of coworkers, offering high-end hospitality and building out aesthetically attractive spaces tailored to the creative class.
That’s partly why it’s occupying the third floor in Raleigh’s newest class A office building versus an older building or warehouse in the heart of downtown.
Part of the allure of Industrious at Charter Square is its glass window walls overlooking Fayetteville Street, along with modern handcrafted furniture, a beach-themed hammock room and secret speakeasy for communal events. The space also has a café with local pastries, fresh fruit, Counter Culture coffee and beer served daily and regular special activities like parfait bars and Bloody Mary happy hours.
The brand prides itself on quality, which is even displayed during tours when visitors receive a take-home $9 bar of Mast Brothers chocolate, handcrafted in New York City.
Started to offer higher quality service
The chain of co-working spaces was first conceived in 2013 when co-founders Jamie Hodari and Justin Stewart became disgruntled with the New York co-working spaces where they worked at the time. They felt that existing operators used the concept to provide low quality environments while earning them a huge profit. The pair believed they could offer a higher quality of service for members, like better food options, rooms for relaxation and events, and private spaces for nursing mothers while still making money for themselves.
They also believed their leadership and business acumen could be an asset.
The men grew up together in Michigan and had complimentary skills. Hodari was running a blended-learning university called Kepler, but previously worked as a corporate lawyer, hedge fund analyst and a journalist. Stewart had been in real estate most of his professional career, running the US branch of a Chinese real estate firm up until the launch of Industrious.
Validation came quick when they had more than 650 companies apply for the first 60 spots at the first space in Chicago.
Industrious has gained a lot of traction over the two years since, raising money from seed and institutional investors to accelerate growth in 2015. Nine Industrious locations are now open in eight of the most up-and-coming startup hubs in the country. The list includes Columbus, Chicago, Minneapolis, Brooklyn, Philadelphia, Atlanta, St. Louis and Raleigh. Nine more are in planning stages for Austin, Dallas, Miami, Boston, Detroit, Nashville, Los Angeles, Seattle and San Francisco.
Part of the reason for the explosive growth, says Valerie Jaffee, the community manager in Raleigh, is a model of embedding a small team in each Industrious community.
“We stay lean as a company,” she says, "starting with just one or two new employees in each city who work to really understand what our members want and need.”
Envisioning the Raleigh space
As they planned expansion for 2015, the team recognized that the Triangle had one of the fastest growing populations in the country and yet it lacked a premium coworking space that was part of a bigger network around the country.
In June, they signed a lease for 20,000 square feet in the Charter Square South Tower, a building completed earlier this year. They’ve spent the last several months under construction on the third floor.
They also hired Jaffee to head the Raleigh operation. While earning a master's degree in public policy at Duke University, Jaffee's research project focused on how culture, environment and people can make spaces for entrepreneurs more inclusive to women. The amenities offered at Industrious fit closely with her work.
She also liked the focus on all types of entrepreneurs and companies. Industrious welcomes everyone—from freelancers to lawyers to remote workers at national companies. The only criteria (other than monthly rent) is that tenants want to be involved in a collaborative and entrepreneurial community of people.
All of those things drew Jason Bradicich, founder of Adena Studios, who is moving from American Underground in Raleigh as it transitions to a code school.
“We wanted an office that was laid back without sacrificing being very professional and upscale,” he says. ”It's also incredibly convenient to have a space that is flexible and turn-key allowing us to expand on demand as we grow.”
When fully leased, Industrious will hold about 200 people. Most will work in private offices that range in size from a single desk to nine workspaces—33 overlook City Plaza and Fayetteville Street. There are also 10 coworking memberships. Month-to-month leases range from $400 for coworking and $600 for the smallest office up to $3800 for the largest ones. All members get access to the coworking area, which is furnished with custom-built wood tables and leather couches and chairs.
Those rates are higher than what’s offered at HQ Raleigh, The Frontier or American Underground, but Industrious believes it’s offering a grown-up coworking space for companies that graduate from those communities.
Here’s how Jaffee describes it: “We're a hospitality company at heart, and for us, it's all about helping our members in Raleigh and across the country feel taken care of.”